We welcome the latest news from our Zone Chairmen, and members of the International Council of Management – Stephen Hipple (Americas), Michael Tamburri (Asia Pacific) and John Nicholas (Europe Africa)
AMERICAS - StePHeN Hipple
Although the Americas are beginning to return to face-to-face events due to the success of the vaccination programme, unfortunately, not all countries can celebrate the availability and success of Covid-19 vaccines to their citizens. The Americas Inc.’s Festivals & Events Committee has been closely monitoring the Covid pandemic in the Americas and France. In the United States 39.9% of total population have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine. The United State is administering over 3,000,000 doses of the Covid vaccine per day and expects 80% of the population to be vaccinated by fall. Unfortunately, France has a much lower percentage of their population vaccinated. For this reason, Americas Inc.’s Festivals & Events Committee has decided to rescheduled the very popular Paris/Bordeaux Festival from July of 2021 to April 21-29 of 2022. This should provide adequate time for France to vaccinate the majority of its population. Since we will be traveling to France in the Spring of 2022, we have rescheduled our long-awaited Willamette Valley Festival in Oregon to April of 2023.
Good news! Plan to join us in San Antonio, Texas for a four-day Texas style festival October 26 through 29, 2021. We will be residing at the romantic Hotel Emma, the only five-star hotel in San Antonio. A leisurely cruise along the scenic River Walk on our own private barge is planned. Our group will enjoy lunch at San Antonio’s best BBQ restaurant one day and the finest Mexican restaurant another day. Our evening dinners will show case Texas style cuisine complemented with a Mexican flavor, think high-end Tex-Mex at the city’s top restaurants. There will be an opportunity to learn about San Antonio’s rich colonial heritage with a visit to the historic Alamo. You will have the opportunity to taste a few Texas wine that score 90 points or better by the Wine Spectator with lunch. Our evening dinners will showcase world class wines from around the world, paired perfectly with each course. Oh yes, you will have time for shopping. Our final dinner at the Hotel Emma will be unlike any you have ever attended. Gentlemen, all you need is a jacket and shirt (western style optional); pair it with blue jeans, cowboy boots, cowboy belt, hat and bolo tie. Ladies may consider dressing in Bohemian or country western attire, boots optional. All of this predicts a wonderful fun evening. Look for the invitation to be emailed to you by the end of May.
ASIA PACIFIC – Michael Tamburri
2021 continues to be a challenging year for some of our branches. However, it is exciting to see that Taiwan, the home of our immediate past Chair Mr James Lin, has been recognised by the World Health Organisation as the country which has been able to most effectively manage the pandemic. In looking at the WHO’s statistics on the Covid-19 pandemic, and considering the APZ region has 2/3 of the world’s population, it is evident that the 14 countries we represent are some of the least impacted in the world. With the roll out of the various vaccines, it appears that we will regain some sort of normality around the world. Despite my enthusiasm, it appears it will take some time before we conduct in-person meetings. The APZ Board has rescheduled our Singapore Festival to 10th December 2021.
In February, the APZ launched its inaugural newsletter (which can now be viewed from your phone or table via the Member App – see above). Filled with news from our branches, it is a way to stay connected until we can meet again physically. The next edition will be out in June. We are reaching out to APZ members to submit their contributions so that all members within the Zone will be able to share in each other’s experiences. Our friends in the Americas and the EAZ may access the newsletter via the APZ section of the main website. The following is a link to the last IWFS-APZ newsletter: https://www.iwfs.org/asia-pacific/news-and-publications/current-newsletter.
Approximately 50% of branches have been able to hold some events, although smaller in scale, over the last year. I was very pleased to note that Vietnam was able to host 12 functions over the year. Thailand, South Korea, China and Taiwan had a number of individual and a combined branch event. Australia was able to hold meetings in Western Australia and to a lesser extent Melbourne and Sydney. New Zealand also was able to hold meetings, including Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India and the Philippines. Covid-19 is evidently more prevalent during winter and in colder climates, which is obvious in Japan. However, I was pleased to be informed by the Roppongi branch that they still managed to hold some virtual meetings with their sister branches of Chaoyang District, Kuala Lumpur and Kyushu, and how they were able to adopt and navigate through these challenging times.
Since taking over, I have had the pleasure of connecting with our branches by initiating an anniversary letter to each branch on the day of its inception, and conducting a survey to better understand the needs of each branch. Thankfully, this had a positive response from the members.
In closing, we acknowledge the passing of our past World Chair of the IWFS, Dr. Yong Nen Khiong (known to most members as NK). NK was World Chair of the IWFS (1992 to 1996) and hosted APZ members at his home on numerous occasions. Our thoughts are with his wife, Melina, and family during this time.
EUROPE AFRICA – John Nicholas
Face-to-face events are still restricted in most countries in the Region. Piedmont festival is postponed until May 2022. Much increased levels of virtual events are being enjoyed by members. Hope for the future.
EAZ countries have different levels of restriction and freedom with frequent changes in what is permitted and what is not. In the UK restrictions are gradually being eased as 50% of the population have received a first dose of vaccine. International travel remains virtually impossible except for “essential” (including business) reasons.
We have decided to postpone the Piedmont festival again until 2022. We cannot predict whether international travel will be permitted by early July 2021 or whether extensive testing and quarantine may be required either on arrival in Italy or on return home. This uncertainty is exacerbated by the continued full lockdown still imposed in the Piedmont region. The likely new dates will be early May 2022 and timed to link with a festival being developed for Alsace, France at the end of April. Attendance could be at either one or both. Those already booked for Piedmont will have their bookings carried forward.
Our Executive Committee has also decided that attendance at EAZ organised festivals will require that full vaccination (except for those who are medically exempt when alternative assurance will be required) has been received by participants. We have also strongly reiterated that all branch events, when they can resume face-to-face events, must comply with local regulations and recommended that vaccinations should be required for participants (except for the medically exempt).
In the absence of events involving physical presence, many more branches of EAZ have held virtual events taking advantage of the ubiquitous Zoom technology with increasing levels of expertise. The events have been very varied and include: full fine-dining experiences (with food delivered for final preparation in members’ homes) and specific matched wines; tutored wine-tastings; cheese (or other food including pancakes) and wine pairings; and, simply each participant regaling the group with personal stories about food and wine.
In some cases, all the participants have had the same wines and food, either delivered to each household or purchased by the participants from countrywide suppliers. Others have required participants to choose their own wines and pair similar food explaining to others the “what and why”. A few events have involved decanting wines into small bottles for delivery to each participating household. Great imagination and effort have been shown by all those organising and running these events. These virtual events have enabled members to feel as if they still belong to the Society and maintain links with as “like-minded friends” often from multiple branches and even located in other countries.
The formation of new branches in Lisbon and the Champagne region of France has been delayed by the restrictions imposed in both countries by Covid-19. We are still hoping that the EAZ AGM/Members’ Forum weekend in Cambridge can go ahead in September as well as the Madeira festival at the end of October.
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